A human rights activist has sued the state minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda Ssubi and the organizers of the Miss Curvy Uganda beauty pageant, arguing that it is against Uganda's Culture.
Kiwanda, Miss Curvy Uganda CEO Anne Mungoma and Miss Curvy Uganda have been dragged to Mengo Magistrate's court by Gideon Tugume the executive director of Human Rights Defenders Uganda. Tugume says that the Miss Curvy contest is discriminative, degrading and a shameful to the country's culture and heritage.
"First of all they are trying to create a women zoo in Uganda - where by they want to create a place somewhere where they can keep women so that tourists can always come and pay and then go and see. That is illegal in this country of which we cannot allow. If you’re looking for the tourism attraction, you have to put somewhere some people such that when they [tourists] come, they find them there. The tourists will not come and look for women in Kyanamukaka or in Ntungamo or somewhere. They have to find them in a certain place. It is not allowed." said Tugume.
According to Tugume, despite women activists, religious leaders and civil society organizations protesting the event, the minister and organisers have continued to register and address the media with the same intention of organising the Miss Curvy competition.
'That it is suspected that the first and third (Mungoma and Miss Curvy Uganda) are probably known friendly to prostitutes and nude dancers which is likely to promote prostitution in Uganda through this Miss Curvy pageant, against the Penal Code CAP. 120", Tugume's application reads in part.
Tugume also notes that the actions of the respondents and intentions are conspiracy to commit a felony which is contrary to the laws of Uganda.
The application also adds, "It shall also be averred that the defendants' actions are against sections of the Public Order Management Act ……the defendants have never disclosed to the public what it means by curvy contest".
Tugume now wants a court to restrain the respondents from organising the contest in any part of the country. He also wants court to declare that the event is discriminative and against the Ugandan culture and heritage. According to Mungoma, already over 140 plus size women have already registered to participate in the contest slated for June this year. She wondered why the pageant has drawn negativity yet the other pageants have been wholesomely embraced by the same critics.
She said “Brazil has a carnival, are they selling their women? Tourists go to see the Karimojong, the Masai, and the Batwa; are they up for sale? Curvaceous women are eye-catching people unless they are saying we restrict beauty pageants to only slim ladies.”
Kiwanda recently said that the Miss Curvy contest was meant to promote beauty in diversity but not promoting women as a tourism product. Court is yet to fix a day for hearing of the case.
In a related development, Kenyan media personality Grace Msalame has also threatened to drag the organisers of the same pageant to court for using her picture on the promotional flyers without permission.
“I take great exception to the fact that my image and likeness are being used to propagate, disseminate and encourage the objectification of women’s bodies. I do not endorse or agree with such a message or anyone who is a creator or supporter of the idea that women’s bodies are tourist attraction sites.” Msalame said in a statement.
“Miss Curvy Uganda’s deliberate and calculated use of my image and likeliness to promote and encourage violation of women’s bodies has defamed my character and reputation, damaged a brand I have worked for many years to establish, and subjected me to unwarranted and undeserved cyber bullying.”
Commenting on the controversial contest, President Yoweri Museveni said recently that the organisers need to be advised and not condemned since the country has been celebrating other beauty contests without any fuss. He said though the contest is not a cabinet decision, he understood where the organisers derived their motive from.